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Economy in Brief

U.S. Worker Productivity Gains Moderately in Q2 but Remains Unchanged Y/Y
by Tom Moeller  August 16, 2013

Nonfarm business sector productivity growth during Q2'13 improved 0.9% (SAAR) after two quarters of 1.7% decline. (Figures back through 2011 were revised.) Over the past year, worker productivity has been unchanged. This result reflects a diminished 1.8% y/y gain in output and a roughly stable 1.8% y/y rise in hours worked. Compensation rose 2.3% last quarter (1.6% y/y). Adjusted for price inflation, compensation also rose 2.3% in Q2 but was roughly unchanged y/y. Unit labor costs rose 1.4% (1.6% y/y).

In the factory sector, worker productivity continued to grow at a 2.7% rate (2.2% y/y). Output rose 2.2% y/y while hours worked slipped marginally y/y. Worker compensation firmed at a 4.2% rate (1.7% y/y). Adjusted for price inflation, compensation rose at a 4.3% rate but it was nearly unchanged y/y.  Unit labor costs increased at a 1.4% rate in Q2 but that didn't make up the Q1 decline. Unit labor costs slipped 0.4% y/y.

The productivity & cost figures are available in Haver's USECON database. 

Productivity & Costs (SAAR,%) Q2'13 Q1'13 Q4'12 Q2 Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Nonfarm Business Sector
Output per Hour (Productivity) 0.9 -1.7 -1.7 0.0 1.5 0.5 3.2
Compensation per Hour 2.3 -5.9 9.9 1.6 2.6 2.5 2.1
Unit Labor Costs 1.4 -4.2 11.8 1.6 1.2 2.0 -1.2
Manufacturing Sector
Output per Hour 2.7 3.9 2.3 2.2 1.8 1.0 6.3
Compensation per Hour 4.2 0.6 4.1 1.7 1.9 1.3 2.4
Unit Labor Costs 1.4 -3.2 1.8 -0.4 0.1 0.4 -3.7
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